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IAM1929 – Founder Creates Mentorship Program Helping Women Entrepreneurs

Podcast Interview with Ellen Yin

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, the guest is the founder of a mentorship program that aims to support and empower women entrepreneurs.

Key Points:

Mentorship Program: The guest discusses their mentorship program, which provides resources, guidance, and support for women entrepreneurs who want to start or grow their own businesses.

Empowering Women: The program seeks to empower women by offering them knowledge, mentorship, and tools to successfully design and run their businesses.

Business Challenges: The guest shares insights into the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, especially in terms of accessing funds, networking, and balancing work-life responsibilities.

CEO Hack: The guest emphasizes the importance of self-care and maintaining balance in personal and professional life.

CEO Nugget: They advise aspiring entrepreneurs to be patient and persistent in their journey, as success takes time.

CEO Defined: To the guest, being a CEO means having the ability to create a positive impact on others, inspire them, and lead by example.

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Ellen Yin Teaser 00:00

What does the data say objectively? Not my opinion, but what does the data say and how can I utilize this to retry the experiment with a different hypothesis and see how that works?

I think adopting that mentality is so key and learning how to appreciate the art of like curiosity.

Intro 00:19

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:46

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics or as I like to call them business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners, or what I like to call CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focused on innovation, disruption, women entrepreneurship, DEI, gig economy, remote economy, even the cannabis industry. Think about these industries and these disruptive technologies that really sometimes aren't as disruptive, but there are people that are just paying attention to what the market needs and they're providing that. So really think about the things that are quote and quote outside of the norm, but really help entrepreneurship to grow and fully develop.

I think it's an extremely exciting time when you're talking about any type of innovation or disruption, because I think that there are so many opportunities and needs that aren't felt that are starting to be filled by different groups, different organizations, or even different industries. So what I want you to do is sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Ellen Yin of Cubicle to CEO. Ellen, super excited to have you on the show.

Ellen Yin 02:09

Gresh, I'm super excited to be here. Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 02:11

Yes. Thank you for all the awesome things that you're doing, and of course, taking some time out today. Before we jumped into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Ellen so you could hear about some of those awesome things.

Ellen is the founder of Cubicle to CEO, a media company elevating the financial footprint of women entrepreneurs through their podcasts of the same name, digital programs, live events, and a global community of 50, 000 people.

Cubicle to CEO's mission is to make mentorship to the masses so all women everywhere can pursue what's possible. Ellen is an accidental entrepreneur who bootstrapped a $300 freelance project into 1. 5 million in revenue by the age of 27. She has been featured in Forbes, the Today show with Hoda and Jenna, Yahoo Finance, Thrive Global, HerMoney, the Statesman Journal, BlogHer and many, many more. And of course, now the I Am CEO podcast.

Ellen super excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to I AM CEO community?

Ellen Yin 03:03

I am. So yeah, I'm just thrilled to be here and yes, you're so right. I feel like our energies are totally aligned because we both have CEO in our brand name and we are all about supporting CEOs.

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[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:14

Yes, absolutely. I can definitely say that for sure. And they say words have power, but acronyms also have power. So I love to see that you have it in your name and I do it too.

What I wanted to do to kick everything off is rewind the clock, hear a little bit more on how you got started what I call your CEO story.

Ellen Yin 03:28

Yeah. So my CEO story starts at the end of 2017. So I was 23 years old, recently graduated college the year before. I was working in a corporate job as a marketer and I had only been at that job for about 10 months, but I knew from day one the cubicle life wasn't for me. So I actually left a couple of days before Christmas and I didn't have a backup plan. I didn't know I wanted to start my own business. I just knew where I was wasn't the right place for me. So I quit my job. And then January, that next month of 2018, I was applying for jobs.

In the middle of my job search, I actually reconnected with a colleague of mine that I had met at my corporate job. He and his wife were local small business owners. They had two coffee stands and they asked if I could help them launch their coffee stands on Instagram because they didn't really have a presence then. And so it was my very first freelance project. It was $300 and I think for me, it wasn't about the money. It was truly an eye opener in realizing that I had a skillset marketing that I could monetize on my own and go land more clients with instead of searching for a job.

So I actually did that. I stopped applying for jobs and I scaled that agency to six figures in the first year and then we moved into education. Since then, our current phase of business, we are a media company that is focused on helping women entrepreneurs get access to the best mentors. So that's the short CEO story.

Gresham Harkless 05:05

Nice. And I think once that gets open, you'd like to have that opportunity to open it up for so many other people.

Ellen Yin 05:11

100%. Yeah. And I think that is why this type of work that you and I do, having conversations with people and making it accessible to anyone who has an internet connection or the ability to listen to a podcast is so important because we don't know what we don't know.

If you grow up in a certain community or a vacuum where everyone around you does the same thing, it is very hard for you to imagine a life different than that for yourself unless you're exposed to other people's stories. So that's why I think showing possibility for others is so empowering.

Gresham Harkless 05:44

Yes, absolutely. So I wanted to drill down a little bit more. I know we touched on a little bit when I read your bio, but could you take us to a little bit more on the media brand and everything you're doing for the clients you work with?

Ellen Yin 05:53

Absolutely. So our main focus is making mentorship more accessible to people. So something I often think about is how some of the most brilliant minds and entrepreneurship, right? Leaders of six, seven, eight, nine figure businesses. It's very rare that you will actually get One-on-one face time with these type of people in a room, right? Unless you already have those networks that you can access. So for us, we always think about how can we bring their thought leadership, their learned and lived experiences to more people through content that is accessible to everyone, no matter where you come from, no matter what your background is, no matter your experience or your connections.

So we do that primarily through our podcast, through Cubicle to CEO, which is the name of our podcast. We like to use our platform as a way to highlight underrepresented voices and media. So particularly women in business, female founders, women of color, people who historically have not had as much just space to show up and share their stories in. What makes us different from most business shows is that instead of highlighting someone's general area of expertise or their backstory, we actually are very case study driven.

So every single guest that shows up, shares one specific revenue growth strategy that they've already tested in their own business. Then they break down what worked in that strategy and what didn't so that our listeners can immediately implement that strategy instead of going through the expensive and often time consuming learning curve of trial and error themselves. So that's really our goal is to take what's already working in real life businesses, spanning all different business models, spanning all different revenue stages and actually allowing entrepreneurs to implement what's working.

Gresham Harkless 07:42

Yeah, I absolutely love that. So I know you touched a little bit upon what I like to call your secret sauce, do you feel like maybe part of your secret sauce, the thing that you feel like makes your organization or yourself unique and sets it apart.

Do you think another part of it is your ability to, I think I don't know if I want to use the word translate or distilled down those lessons, the case studies, all that information to get that out there so that people can really understand that. Do you think that's part of your secret sauce?

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Ellen Yin 08:06

Ooh, man, You are very observant. I love this. That's a really interesting question because I think that actually is the most common feedback we get from people in our community, whether they're consuming our free content or whether they're in our paid programs, is that they feel that our content and our teaching really helps clarify and simplify things for them. So those are the two words we hear the most often. Simplicity and clarification. And I feel like that really is our company's superpower because there are so many things that can feel really complex in business. For example, like one of one of our primary live event series is our paid to create challenges.

These are our bi-monthly live course creation challenges where we help people turn the idea in their head into an actual online course that they can pre-sell and enroll paying students for before they even you know, have created the course content and we've helped over 800 people now through these challenges. So many people come into the challenge thinking creating a course is something that's going to take them six months, one year that it's a future someday thing, right? But we show them that you can simplify really anything in business when you cut out all of the trial and error and all the things that you feel like you should do.

And I'm putting should in quotation marks, because I think we place a lot of pressure on ourselves based on what we see other people doing. We again compare ourselves to maybe people who are five years, ten years into their businesses and we're over here on day one of let's say your course creation journey. And you think that you need all the fancy things that people you're seeing out there being successful with courses doing. We show them, no, let's simplify this and really, like you said, distill this down into the absolute necessities, the minimum viable product that you need to put out there to start making money immediately from an online course.

So that's just one example of, I feel like how we're able to simplify things for our audience.

Gresham Harkless 10:02

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's absolute gold. I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Ellen Yin 10:14

So one of the most influential books I've ever read is called Procrastinate On Purpose. It's by an author called Rory Vaden. One of the concepts that I borrowed from his book that I found so helpful in terms of efficiency is so he says often, we look at the things on our list on our ever growing to do list and we ask ourselves what is important and what is urgent, right? Like what is something that needs to be done in the near future as well as what is something that is important. However, he encourages in that book for us to take one step even beyond those two factors and look at our to do list through the lens of significance.

So he asked us to ask ourselves, if I do this task today, is it only saving me time or is it only mattering to my business in terms of revenue or whatever it may be impact today? Or if I do this task will actually save me time in the future will actually pay off again in the future. Is there a long-term significance to what I'm doing? And I think that is just such a massive shift for so many people, because oftentimes as entrepreneurs, we sometimes live in that day-to-day survival mode where we're just trying to get through the end of the day and catch up on everything that we need to do.

And we always feel behind, but I think when you're able to look at the work you're actually doing through that lens of significance, it really changes what you prioritize.

Gresham Harkless 11:38

Yeah, absolutely. I love that you mentioned that. I definitely have to check out that book. I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. You might have already touched on this, but this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or a piece of advice.

I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client or if you hopped into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Ellen Yin 11:54

Yeah, absolutely. There are a few things that come to mind, but one thing I think is really important is it's easy for people to say embrace failure, like fail forward, all of those common things that we hear it's always easier said than done, but I think what's really helped me over the last number of years is really adopting more of a data mindset. So I started thinking about my role as an entrepreneur, as a business leader, like a scientist would in a lab. And maybe it's because my dad is a scientist, so this analogy just came to mind. Scientists when they're in the lab they have a hypothesis about what they think will happen in an experiment.

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But if their experiment proves their hypothesis wrong and they, so to speak failed, they don't look at that result that their research says and go, Oh, this means that I'm a terrible scientist. Like my hypothesis was wrong, therefore I'm unqualified and all these things that we tell ourselves. Instead, they look at that research as new data and it makes them smarter and it opens up perhaps like gaps that they didn't see before in their research. And they go, okay, I'm a little bit smarter, a little bit wiser. Let me take what I learned from this time. What does the data say objectively? Not my opinion, but what does the data say and how can I utilize this to retry the experiment with a different hypothesis and see how that works.

I think adopting that mentality is so key and learning how to appreciate the art of like curiosity and not being so attached to outcomes, but rather really taking in the data and learning how to use data to make better decisions. I think if you can detach from those outcomes and stop letting the results of things mean something about you, if you can instead just look at things objectively and go, okay, how can I use this to be better next time? I think it makes such a world of difference. So that would be my little nugget that I would share with people.

Gresham Harkless 13:49

I love that. And so, I want to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So Ellen, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Ellen Yin 13:58

Oh, my gosh. I don't know if you know this, but that is literally the same question I ask every guest on my show. Did you know?

Gresham Harkless 14:04

I love it. No, I didn't know that. That's awesome. So crazy.

Ellen Yin 14:08

Yes. For those of you listening, this is the first time we're meeting. So like our minds like moment in time.

Gresham Harkless 14:14

We've been like years and years ago, apparently.

Ellen Yin 14:19

That's amazing. Oh man, I should totally be better prepared for this question knowing I ask it to all my guests. I've never had to actually answer the question myself. Honestly, the definition changes for me every single day. But I think what it means most importantly to me is to embrace the lifelong adventure of curiosity and to always look at everything as an opportunity to explore what's possible. That's tagline for cubicle to CEO as we help women pursue what's possible.

I think that idea of possibility holds so much optimism. It holds so much courage and empowerment. And I just think that as a CEO, it's our job to forge more possibility for more people through the work that we do, right? We open doors, we solve problems, we explore things that other people may shy away from because they see them as obstacles. But for us, it's that unique perspective of looking at every challenge as an adventure.

Gresham Harkless 15:16

Absolutely. Ellen, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, of course, how best people get ahold of you, subscribe to the podcast, find out about all the awesome things that you and your team are working on.

Ellen Yin 15:33

Thank you so much for sharing your platform. So Gresham mentioned the best way for you to continue benefiting from the resources that we're putting out there is to subscribe to our podcast. So wherever you're listening to this podcast, if you search Cubicle to CEO, you can follow and subscribe us to us there. We release new episodes every single Monday.

And if you want to hang out with us on Instagram, my personal Instagram is missellenyin. The company Instagram is at cubicletoceo. You can reach me on either platform and never feel shy about dropping us a line in the DMS. We'd love to hear from you and we'd love to hear what's on your mind and how we can better serve you.

Gresham Harkless 16:09

Awesome. To make that even easier, of course, we're going to have the information in the show notes so that you can reach out to Ellen about all the awesome things that you're doing, but I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Ellen Yin 16:17

Thank you. You too.

Outro 16:18

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Check out the latest and greatest apps, books, and habits to level up your business at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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